How NVIDIA's New Tegra K1 Is a Literal Game-Changer for Android

NVIDIA’s new processor compresses the PC-console mobile release cycle.

Jan 18, 2014 at 12:00PM

The Fool headed out to Vegas to check out the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show. With more than 3,200 exhibitors, including 88% of the top retailers in consumer electronics, the CES is the place to be to see what's coming up in tech.

Seeing that Android gaming "needed some horsepower behind it," NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) developed the Tegra K1 chip, bringing Epic's Unreal Engine 4 to mobile and giving developers a single, scalable code base.

Thanks to an uncanny ability to identify key trends in technology, David Gardner has established a market-thumping track record. Investors have seen a slew of storylines coming out of CES 2014, but the real challenge is recognizing where the opportunities truly lie. Click here to get David's latest thinking on where you should be invested to profit on the future of technology.

A full transcript follows the video.

Eric Bleeker: Hey, Fools. I'm Eric Bleeker on the floor of CES, and I'm at NVIDIA's booth. It's pretty awesome, I must say; a lot of stuff going on here. No shortage of eye candy! Partially, this is due to your new Tegra K1 processor. We get used to, every single year, bigger and better, and you guys don't disappoint this year as well.

NVIDIA Representative: Thank you.

Bleeker: One area I wanted to talk about was maybe where gaming has gone since you announced Tegra. When it was first announced, you were obviously looking at smartphones, and tablets to some extent.

But we've really seen the extension of Android gaming and what Tegra is powering. Could you talk about some of the exciting avenues where gaming is moving with mobile chips?

NVIDIA Representative: Absolutely. We're very excited about where mobile gaming is going, especially with Tegra K1. I think it opens up a whole new range of games for next-generation gaming.

The biggest announcement with Tegra K1 is the fact that Epic's Unreal Engine 4 runs on mobile. It's the first time it's running on mobile, so it's running on PCs, consoles, and our chip. What that does for game developers is it enables them to take one code base -- with the DX11 support, Open GL 4.4 and Open GL ES -- and scale that across all platforms so it's no longer years and years and years between PC releases, then console, and then mobile. We've compressed that whole cycle.

We're really stoked about where Android gaming is going. We're investing heavily. One of the things that we feel is that Android gaming really needed some horsepower behind it to enable some of that and bring that goodness to mobile. That's what K1 is all about.

Bleeker: Obviously, one of the areas that we have to look at is you can build the most souped-up, greatest processor in the world, but if people aren't designing games for it, it's not going to have a huge impact.

With this newest processor, it looks like you guys have made it to run more easily across multiple platforms. Was that one of the killer features you were approaching from the start?

NVIDIA Representative: Yeah. The NVIDIA DNA is all around gaming and visual computing, so we've been looking at how to make that transition for game developers more seamless and more streamlined. Absolutely, that was one of the criteria: How do we solve that chicken-and-egg dilemma?

And also the developer's dilemma, because as they look at PC gaming and console gaming and mobile, there is a whole wide range of APIs they have to code to, so they go first where all the money is, and then later where the volume is. Sometimes that's a huge step, so we wanted to make that an easy decision for them, which we've done.

You see the quotes from Tim Sweeney about the Tegra K1. He's got a great a great video online, if you haven't seen it, with him commenting on what Tegra brings to mobile gaming. It's very worth seeing.

We're pretty impressed with the outcome, but yes, that was part of what we wanted to accomplish. We wanted to bring all the DNA of the GeForce products to mobile.

Bleeker: One final question. You guys have home-field advantage here with Shield, which I'm sure you're very excited about. But what's one innovative example of a non-smartphone, non-tablet, using Android for gaming in the past year?

NVIDIA Representative: In the past year? Well, let's see ...

Bleeker: Or any time.

NVIDIA Representative: I think what's coming is going to be more interesting. I think that everyone is trying to do it with the tools that they had, and I think with Tegra K1 that opens up a whole new toy box for them in terms of tools. I think from consoles, things like Shield, and then beyond -- smart televisions and smart displays -- I think we're going to see a really big jump in Android gaming.

Bleeker: There you have it. Android gaming may be making the next step in 2014. For all your CES news, check back to Fool on! 

Eric Bleeker, CFA, owns shares of NVIDIA. The Motley Fool recommends NVIDIA. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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